July 17, 2014
By ROSA CICCIO | Hartford Courant
HOW IT GOT ITS NAME: Originally part of Haddam, and named for Little Haddam in Hertfordshire, England, the eastern side of town was settled around 1685 and incorporated as a separate town in 1734.
LANDMARKS: East Haddam is home to two of Connecticut's best-known landmarks. Gillette Castle is the former home of actor William Gillette, famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. His stone castle was built between 1914 and 1919 on a hill running along the Connecticut River. The state bought the property in 1943, six years after Gillette's death. The other landmark is the Goodspeed Opera House. It was built in 1876 by shipping tycoon William H. Goodspeed, a theater aficionado. After Goodspeed's death in 1882, the theater was used as a warehouse by the state highway department. Slated for demolition in 1958, the opera house was saved by preservationists and reopened on June 8, 1963.
DID YOU HEAR THAT? The "Moodus Noises," the rumbling sounds that residents of the town's Moodus section have heard for centuries, are now attributed to a geological fissure that causes shallow micro-earthquakes. Moodus is short for Machimoodus, an Indian name meaning "place where the noises are."
NOTABLE RESIDENTS: Patriot Nathan Hale; U.S. Sens. Morgan G. Bulkeley and Christopher Dodd; Revolutionary War generals Epaproditus Champion, Joseph Spencer and Dyar Throop; whaling captain and Arctic explorer George Comer; "Zippy" cartoonist Bill Griffth; and former slave and entrepreneur Venture Smith.
Sources: The Hartford Courant; easthaddam.org; Connecticut Place Names; CT State Register and Manual